When Miami philanthropist Amarilis Osorio turned 40 in 2005, she and her husband, Claudio, threw an African-themed extravaganza at the old Versace mansion in Miami Beach, where guests were greeted by two muscular men dressed in Tarzan costumes.
As African drums filled the air, the couple’s guests gathered under five tents in the mansion’s courtyard, where chefs prepared lunch by their tables.
For the Osorios, the Barton G.-produced birthday bash may have been over the top, but it was nothing unusual in their rarefied social circles. Over the years, they have raised money for the Gloria Estefan Foundation, homeless causes, underprivileged children, and national politicians such as Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. But now the couple, who have lived on exclusive Star Island since 1997, find themselves under siege.
A Miami judge has restricted the couple’s access to their bank accounts after appointing a receiver to examine the finances of Claudio Osorio’s latest entrepreneurial venture, InnoVida, a high-tech housing business that has been sued by several investors and lenders over the past year.
The Venezuelan-born Osorio reached the pinnacle of success in 1997 when he was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young as the head of a Fortune 500 company. Today, he’s no longer in charge of Miami Beach-based InnoVida.
Osorio, wearing faded blue jeans and a Harvard Crimson baseball cap during an interview this month, said he could not imagine anyone else running his company. His vision for InnoVida, conceived in 2005, was to build houses around the world with fiber-composite walls instead of concrete, wood or steel. He called the resins used to make the panels InnoVida’s “Coca-Cola formula.” He described the panels as “Legos” because they’re easy to install.
“The company is too dependent on its technology and people to have someone else come in,” Osorio, 52, said at his lawyer’s office.
The legal battles over InnoVida represent a sharp contrast to Osorio’s early success as a businessman.
He and his wife have enjoyed the good life for years, thanks to Claudio Osorio’s entrepreneurial flair. In Caracas, he founded a chain of sporting goods stores and later launched a computer distribution business.
He moved the business to Miami in 1993, when he took over a dormant U.S. public company. The newly named entity: CHS Electronics.
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